A few weeks ago we were visited by a tropical storm named Cindy.
While at first her travel plans had her heading straight towards us, as she got closer she decided to check out our neighbors to the east instead. (Whew.)
My boyfriend and I just happened to have made one of our frequent summer treks to the beach the evening before she arrived.
Right before we left, news about Cindy began to trickle in. But neither of us paid it much attention (if you have lived an hour from the Gulf of Mexico for most of your life, tropical storms don’t tend to phase you much).
As the sunset that evening continued to unfold, it became nothing short of extraordinary. There were colors EVERYWHERE.
Every corner of the sky had its own masterpiece-in-progress. Just as one side would turn bright red, the other would respond with a swath of brilliant blue.
Sometimes it felt like different corners of the heavens were trading colors like playing cards, as they shared pinks, oranges, yellows, magentas, purples, blues and golds back and forth, each taking their turn and then passing the colors on and on and on.
But the coolest part about this sunset was that it happened not once, not twice, not three, but four times.
Because of how the clouds kept moving and shifting and changing shapes, the sun would appear to set, but then a cloud would move and sunset would start all over again.
At one point we were driving when sunset started yet again, so we pulled over to watch it. The sky lit up like a panoramic painting-in-progress, with a heavenly artist so indecisively perfectionistic that every second or two brought sweeping changes across the canvas yet again.
The fourth time we saw the sun set that night, we were driving back across the broad arcing bridge that connected the island of Galveston to the mainland as we headed home.
Out of all the art gallery visits I have done (and I have done my share, since I’ve had several close friends who are professional artists), this was by far the most profound.
It was like being literally inside a piece of art as it was born and grew up. It was like watching one of those time-lapse videos where the baby turtle pecks its way out of its egg and in less than 30 seconds grows up to be the size of a VW bus.
And the silence of it all….the reason I love sunset so much is because there is this one moment where the silence is just – complete. There could be monstrous amounts of noise going on right up until that moment, but when it arrives, the whole world goes silent – whether it wants to or was planning to or not.
It is a moment of profound respect.
In that moment, there is respect for the artist, respect for the painting, respect for the planet, the people and all the beings on it (whether or not any of them are doing a particularly good job of respecting themselves or each other).
In that moment, awe is mandatory. If you are breathing and at all aware, you will feel it.
The few times I have watched the sun rise I have felt the same thing but different.
Sunrise is, well, lighter somehow. The day is just starting itself. It is excited at what the day ahead might hold. It is very, very hopeful.
But sunset – sunset is that day waving goodbye as we wish each other so very profoundly well, knowing we will never meet in that precise way ever again.
Today’s Takeaway: Sometimes the calm before a storm can be – magical. And sometimes it can set us up for a lifetime of distrusting the calm for fear of a storm still yet to come. I struggled for years with that exact fear, until I realized that calm-storm-calm-storm-calm is just the way of things. It is how life goes. Yet through it all – all the ups and downs, the desirables and undesirables – there is that moment of profound respect and awe that runs through it. It runs right through the center. It is always there – not just when the sun sets or rises. Have you found anything to hold onto that feels reassuring when life is doing its ups-and-downs maneuvers yet again?